Drums are so important when making beats or producing a hit song, as it’s the backbone of a track. With countless drum kits being sold online and bundled with software, drums are essential if you want your track to bang.
However, a lot of beat makers and producers tend to get lazy with their drum loops (guilty!) so it’s good to change things up. Often times I have used the same pattern and even though it works (think “kick-snare-kick-kick-snare”), it just doesn’t seem right.
Here are 5 ways to spice up your drums.
1. Stutter Your Snare
I’m not talking about layering a few snares on top of one another. What I mean by “stutter your snare” is just that – make your snare stutter. One of the most challenging things about making a drum pattern is to make it sound like an actual drummer. A real drummer won’t just do clean, robotic patterns, instead he will go nuts and bang out all sorts of drum hits.
With your snare, you can either have the same one stutter or a different sounding snare. The best way you can do this is to have the second snare come in just a tad bit after the first one. I don’t mean just have a “snare-snare” scenario like you commonly hear on a track, mostly on the 8th bar. Instead, it’s a second snare that sounds like it’s just off slightly, but enough to be noticeable.
By doing this, it will give the appearance that your drums just may be from a real drummer.
2. Have Two Different Patterns To Play With
As I mentioned, it’s easy to get lazy with the drum pattern, but also with the drum sounds. That’s why one technique that is interesting to use is where you have a completely different pattern along with the original.
For example, you could have your regular pattern for the first three bars, then on the 4th, have the other pattern. I don’t mean just adding in an extra snare, I mean a completely different pattern – one with different sounds.
So your first 3 bars (or however you want to program it) are regular, but on the 4th bar you could have drums that are totally different, such as 808 drums, or the same drums from the first 3 bars, but you have them EQ’d a certain way so they sound different. Maybe make them lofi or morph them completely.
3. Layer Two Drum Loops
I tried this recently and it turned out great. I was digging through my drum loops and I found something that sounded great, the pattern was perfect. But I had a problem. The drum loop was terrible quality and I couldn’t possibly use it as my main drums. So since the loop didn’t have a low-end, it was a great opportunity for me to use it along with another loop.
All I did was simply layer the crappy quality loop on top of a clean, nice sounding loop – and it was perfect. I had a nice drum loop with some dirt thrown on top.
4. Take Stuff Out For Variation
I have always found it interesting when I play a drum loop with just the kick and snare. Without the hat, it sounds very boring and has no life to it. As soon as the hat is added, now the loop sounds much better. Who knew?
Sometimes it’s good to keep it as simple as possible and just make some changes to your drum loop by taking out either the kick, snare, or hat. Most of the time you will hear the snare get taken out, but it’s the hat that is actually the glue of the loop. Think of it as something that holds the kick and snare together – if you take it away it sounds way different, which is perfect for when you want a change up.
5. Roll Your Snares
Sometimes rolling your snares sound great, other times they’re just overused. A great example of someone that uses rolls in a great way is Lord Finesse.